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Native son is 2012 Wyo. sportswriter of the year

Modified: Friday, Feb 15th, 2013


CHEYENNE — He didn’t grow up in Kemmerer. But he was born here, so that gives us the right to call him our own.

“I spent a lot of time there [in Kemmerer] in the summers with my dad,” Robert Gagliardi told the Gazette. Most of his dad’s family — his dad is also named Robert — still lives in the area.

Gagliardi, a 19-year veteran of the Wyoming sports scene, now lives in Cheyenne and was recently recognized as the 2012 Wyoming Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA).

“It’s a huge honor. What’s really special about this is, you’re basically voted on by your peers,” he said of the award. Honorees are voted on by their Wyoming peers only.

The NSSA recognizes sportscasters and sportswriters from each state, but also recognizes a Hall of Fame sportscaster sportswriter and a national sportscaster and sportswriter. Gagliardi is in some very esteemed company. This isn’t his first, however; he won the same award in 2006 and 2010.

Gagliardi’s first job was at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, where he also currently works. He started as a sportswriter, and over time served as Outdoors editor, assistant sports editor and sports editor. About two years ago, two sister newspapers —the Tribune Eagle and the Laramie Boomerang —combined their sports forces/resources and created Wyosports.

“In the simplest terms I can say, it’s more of a content sharing [venture],” he explained.

For the first couple of years, he managed both staffs; now he’s a senior editor, and isn’t as immersed in the day-to-day management. It leaves him more time to do what he got into the business to do — cover and write about sports.

“I was always around sports and played sports when I was young and growing up. When I went to college I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” he said.

He got hooked on sportswriting at the University of Wyoming. He thought that writing about sports might be something in which he was interested. After being told that writing skills were essential to the job, he signed up for a few journalism classes and started working for the school’s newspaper, The Branding Iron.

And that was it.

“You just never really know what to expect, game in and game out,” he said about his love of the industry. He talked about the “ever-evolving world of sports” and how he finds the job “still thrilling.”

So what, exactly, makes a good sportswriter?

“Be accurate and be objective. Those are the things, to me, that make any writer good at what they do. Don’t take shortcuts. It doesn’t matter how big the words you use are, or how many words you write or how long a story is,” he said. “Just be accurate and objective with it. I think that gets kind of lost in journalism these days, with all the electronic platforms that we have.”

It’s no secret that the newspaper industry is not what it once was, and Gagliardi seems to have both feet firmly planted in all the right places. Type his name in a search engine and he’s all over the digital place.

“To sit there and say it’s not changing, you’re really naïve and missing the boat. In smaller communities there’s always going to be a need for the local paper, whether it’s a daily or a weekly, or whatever the size. I do think it’s important for papers of all sizes, no matter where you’re at, to know the change that’s going on out there, electronically and everthing,” he said of the “adapt-or-die” future that newspapers face. “To just ignore what’s going on in our industry would be very, very foolish and dangerous for everyone involved.”

The demand for sports delivered electronically is definitely there. That’s really what folks want to see.

“They really do. It’s just really kind of something I’ve learned from being around other sports editors around the country, papers big and small,” he said of his online presence.

But, he was sure to remind, “Journalism is still journalism. Just because you put something online, you just can’t be foolish with it. You still have to be responsible. As a journalist, whether you’re writing a story for the newspaper in print or online, or a blog post or whatever it might be, you still have a responsibility to be fair, to be accurate and to be a journalist,” he cautioned. “Just because the platforms are changing, doesn’t mean that what we learn in school and from our professors, from our editors and mentors has changed. You still have to hold yourself to a higher standard.”

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